Wrong actually. Yesterday I heard the managing director of a long-established digital marketing agency tell a room full of people that he advises his clients the main reason to engage in social media activities is to improve search engine ranking.

Social media purists will balk at the notion… using authentic person-to-person communications merely to game the search engines. Realistically, the businesses that are using social media in this way won’t see much return for their investment; since the SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits are fairly limited.

A blog is certainly a good tool to have in your search engine marketing strategy. However it is not the fact that it is a blog per se, but more that it is a part of your website that is regularly updated with fresh content covering a wide range of topics. You could achieve this without actually using blog software.

I haven’t heard too many talk about the identifiable SEO benefits of Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. That’s because there are not too many. Having them will certainly ensure that your tentacles on the web are wider. Ideally you want as many of the search results for your key terms to be occupied with properties you own.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Weedle here. Already we’ve seen some surprising results for people who have created skill profiles on the platform which has been live for just six weeks. For example, undertake a search today for “tax specialist San Francisco” or “carpenter, joiner or kitchen fitter Ireland” on Google.com and note that the number one organic result in each case is a Weedle profile.

The search benefits from engaging with social media are important but they should not be the reason that you engage with it. Social media, gives you the opportunity to engage in word of mouth marketing of your business. It enables you and others on social media platforms to talk about what’s good about your business, your products or your services.

Social media provides you with opportunities to enable your fans to testify to your greatness. In doing so, and because they are doing it on social media applications, they are telling all of their friends directly what they think about you. They are marketing you to their friends. facilitate, encourage and reward your fans who share what they like about you. This is what social media engagement can do for you and it is far more powerful marketing than SEO.

Facebook this week announced some changes to how they make this process easier for your fans. CNN covers it here. They have changed the “Become a fan” button on your business’s Facebook page to “Like”. Facebook know that “like” is going to get more clicks for you than “become a fan”. As you know, when someone “like’s” your page, all of their friends can see that action. This is the nub of how social marketing works.

Facebook also announced that it is stretching its own tentacles beyond its own website and is going to follow you wherever you go on the web. Each time you visit another website, Facebook will know, without you having to log on to Facebook each time, and will let your friend’s know what you think about the various websites you visit. Facebook naturally needs to take its application to the next level and with 400 million users globally has the scale to do this. Many have already expressed privacy concerns about this move, but Facebook’s scale means that regardless of these concerns you will start to see your friends’ Facebook faces, and they yours, on very many of the websites you visit from now on.

The social marketing opportunity for website and businesses owners with these developments is very clear. Old school digital marketing agencies now need to catch up.